December 21, 2016
QualiTest looks to the Future Trends in Application Testing Services.
Gartner’s 2016 report titled Magic Quadrant for Application Testing Services, Worldwide has some intriguing observations on the application testing industry. For those of us in the industry, it is worth studying these trends with an eye toward where we’re heading and knowledge to help us adjust our path. Indeed, Gartner produces a lot of helpful metrics and observations in general enlighten us about various industries. Let me begin by directly quoting the report’s 4 Strategic Planning Assumptions:
- By 2020, business key performance indicators (KPIs) will be the contractual terms for 70% of testing in support of digital business operations.
- By 2020, agile and DevOps initiatives will cause at least 75% of enterprises to implement test automation.
- By 2020, 60% of testing resources will need to have a combination of testing skills, application development skills, and business process skills or industry skills.
- By 2019, providers unable to automate at least 60% of test execution will risk not surviving in the testing service marketplace.
Let’s look at these and think through the ramifications, noting that these are my interpretations of what Gartner said, not what Gartner said. The Assumptions suggest to me that these majority percentages points to where the marketplace demands we head. Ignoring these areas would throw away a lot of potential business.
KPI’s make sense, as they provide periodic scheduled accountability. Would you want to enter a long-term endeavor without some way to ensure that alignment exists so that “on-track” means something? KPI’s, of course, can refer to many different things. They can mean avoiding cost overruns, maintaining schedule adherence (such as a rate for converting a manual case set to automated scripts), hitting qualitative goals (such as surveyed ratings that put the user experience in a desirable range), they can be process-related (such as maintaining specific best practices or cutting the SDLC by a predefined amount). Failures to meet KPI’s like these would worry any client, and the KPI is key to their piece-of-mind protection.
Two of these Assumptions involve an overall push towards automated solutions. This may be forced due to a methodology switch to agile or DevOps. But the important thing to remember having automation in your toolkit could very well determine your survival as an application testing company. Automation has many obvious benefits, notably speed, exactness and scalability of execution.
The role of testing resource used to be highly siloed with an emphasis on testing skills. Now, the majority of testing resources will also need application development skills (essential for automation testing). Also, business process and industry skills are also essential, highlighting the need for business analysis and industry vertical knowledge, which enable easier ramp up and calculation of missed edge cases.
Later in the report, it mentions “Growth rates year over year of the providers in this Magic Quadrant are about 15%.” So if your growth rate is less than that, this may be a strong incentive for you to modify your business model by heeding trends in this report.
The report also lists the following most common use cases for clients engaging with application testing service providers (making me think that this would be a helpful short list when talking to clients, and helpful for headline terms and key benefits to highlight in case studies):
- Reducing the cost of testing
- Improving the quality of applications and processes
- Reducing time to market and increasing the speed of performing necessary testing
- Improving the experience of the clients and stakeholders
Lastly, the Gartner report mentions some key trends impacting the application testing market. For space reasons, I am only listing the categories, and omitting Gartner’s lengthy descriptions, although I have added 2 definition links to Gartner’s website, for you to draw your own conclusions about what the client wants. While I have noted how this year’s list compares to previous years, please note that repetition between years and replacement are my interpretive terms and are not meant to imply “no change” or quid-pro-quo replacement or any other Gartner rationale. The 2016 full list consists of:
- Automation and smart automation (the previous 2 years versions included “Automation”)
- Business assurance (new this year’s version)
- Continuous integration and continuous deployment (replaces “Agile and DevOps methodologies” from past 2 years versions)
- Industry specialization (was also in last year’s version)
- New and flexible models (was also in last year’s version)
- Consumerization (new this year – “Mobile testing” was in last year’s version)
- Bimodal (new this year – “New testing skills” was in last year’s version)
While we cannot predict the future, we can at least read up on the current state of the application testing industry, and the projected trends. By paying attention, we can focus on being a part of that future. To me, it sounds like the future wants testing solutions that include methodologies that hasten SDLC, use automation from multi-disciplined testers who know more than just testing, and pay attention to user experience and business context.
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